When your child’s baby teeth fall out, you may notice that the adult teeth come in and seem massive. How can their little mouth fit all those big teeth? Around the same time (usually 4-7 years old), you’ll start to notice a crooked smile. And while that little charmer may be cute with those gaps and uneven spacing, you may start to wonder—how much crooked is okay? Today, we’re going to answer your frequently asked questions about crooked teeth, and help you to understand and identify when a bite goes from good to bad. And for a bad bite, the technical term is “malocclusion.”
What is malocclusion?
You may have seen this word on your child’s dental forms for school, or heard it thrown around while you were in the dentist’s office. Malocclusion translates to “bad” (for the “mal” part of the word) “bite” (for the “occlusion” part of the word. “Occlusion” is how the upper and lower teeth come together when the jaw closes.) Malocclusion is related to crooked teeth, the arch, and jaw misalignment. So malocclusion isn’t really a big scary term—it just means “bad bite,” a totally fixable problem.
What qualifies as malocclusion?
There are all sorts of bad bites—deep bites, open bites, overjet, facial asymmetry, crossbite, and crowding. Check out photos showing all of these examples. [https://www.ortho-tmj.com/early-warning-signs-of-bite-problems-in-children/] Do any of these bites look familiar?
When should my child be seen for orthodontic work?
That’s something to be fixed when your kid is a teenager, right? With braces? If these are your questions (common ones, by the way!), reader, you are showing your age. When this generation of parents were younger, teenage braces was the fix for a bad bite, with the occasional head gear thrown in for good measure (and laughs in every 80s movie ever made). Today, a lot of people still wait until the teen years for braces. But 90 percent of the face is developed by age 12. In many cases, it makes far more sense to treat early (any time after the age of 4). This gives the chance to make room in the bite for all permanent teeth to erupt, reducing time spent in braces later and often eliminating the need for painful tooth extractions.
Can malocclusion be prevented?
Sometimes your child gets a bad bite because of the luck of genetics—they just don’t have enough room in their jaw for all their adult teeth. As teeth grow in, they push each other around to squeeze for a spot. The problem is often skeletal: the jaw is narrow, or underdeveloped, and while this can’t be prevented, it can be corrected as the child grows with early orthodontics.
Occasionally a bad habit, like thumb sucking or tongue thrust (where a child’s tongue pushes too far forward when they swallow) can cause malocclusion. Pressure on the back of the teeth multiple times a day can change the shape of the bite! The good news is, an early orthodontics oral appliance (a device similar to a retainer) can do the double work of preventing the bad habit and fixing the bite.
What is the treatment for malocclusion?
We take a two-phase approach. In the first phase, we use an oral appliance (which can be cemented in place or removable, depending on the child’s bite and what needs to be fixed). The oral appliance expands the arch, making room in the jaw for permanent teeth. The second phase, then, is braces. Time spent in braces can be significantly reduced because of the first phase of treatment.
How do you know if your child’s malocclusion needs treatment?
You’ve done your good work researching and getting to this article. Let us take the reins from here! Diagnosis is a job for the pros! We offer an initial consultation for free. If you are in the London, Ontario area and suspect your child has malocclusion, schedule a free consultation today! We can take a look and recommend a treatment plan to meet you and your child’s needs.
What happens at a free orthodontic consultation?
• Gather information about your child and concerns
• Dr. Rondeau examines the mouth
What are the next steps?
• If Dr. Rondeau thinks your child is a good early orthodontics candidate, you set up a 1 hour records appointment. X-rays and other diagnostic tests are done.
• You’ll set up a final consultation appointment to discuss diagnosis, treatment plans, and an estimate.
Are you interested in seeing if your child’s bad bite should be fixed with early orthodontics? Set up your free consultation today. Call Dr. Brock Rondeau & Associates of London, ON at (519) 455-4110.